Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Friday, January 19, 2007

How to fix this Neteller mess

Look, I'm unfortunately a little more inclined to agree with Bill and Scurvy than I am with Amy. All three have written very detailed, well thought-out articles on their anticipated outcomes of the Neteller pullout and the arrests of the two co-founders. Bill and Scurvy seem to feel that the sky is not only falling, but is lying in shards around our feet, and Amy is counseling a more cautious approach, and encouraging us to avoid Chicken Little Syndrome. They are both valid points, and like I said, I seem to hear the crunch of sky underfoot with every step lately.

This affects me very little directly. I had, at the time of the Neteller withdrawal, a whopping $150 online, quickly reduced to $139 by my less than fortunate finish in the Mookie. I take some solace in knowing that I doubled up two of the eventual top four finishers on my way out the door. You're welcome. But in the sense that I write about this industry that just took another kick in the junk, it affects indirectly to a great degree. But it's okay, I know how to fix it.

No one with the power/authority to do anything will actually read this, but I will scream into the void anyway.

Throw more money at the problem.

I mean serious, Jamie Gold is a pauper kind of money. I see "Big Poppa" Doyle throwing $50K bricks of cash around on High Stakes poker like it's nothing. Well, Doyle, it's time for YOU, and Daniel N. to lay some serious cash on the table. Ditto Jen Harman, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson and all the Full Tilt pros. But I target Doyle and Danny specifically because they OWN poker sites.

If you own, manage or in some other way run a poker site, you need to throw some major-league lobbying money at this problem to get poker carved out of the UIGEA before the regulations on enforcement are published. I'm talking 8-digit money. Neteller needs to come to the party, too, as does FirePay, PokerSavvy, PokerSource Online,, PocketFives, Cardplayer, Bluff and anybody else who makes the majority of their income off online poker.

This is a winnable battle, but only if you have enough ammo. We are poker players, and if there's anything we understand, it's that money is ammunition. Poker is a $12 Billion annual industry worldwide, with nearly half of that coming from the US. That's $6 Billion every year generated by US poker players. Five percent of that - $300 Million - would likely be enough to buy plenty of Congressional support for a carveout similar to what horse racing and online lotteries were smart enough to buy beforehand.

Yes, I am seriously suggesting that someone come up with THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS to buy a carveout in the UIGEA for online poker. I also don't think it's an unreasonable sum of money. Even tiny poker sites can pony up a million or so, and Calvin Ayres can drop $50 mil out of his pocket and not even notice. But the cold hard fact is that this is big business and big business plays with big money. I can't completely guarantee that that would be enough money, because I don't know what it takes to get a law amended after it's passed (and if you do, please comment!), but I do know that this carveout would be a bargain at twice the price.

Over half a billion dollars just to be able to play online poker in the US? The sites would make that money back in three months time. It's their call, really. If they want to stay in business at all, or at anything near the levels we have seen in recent years, it's time to step up, put up, or shut up. This has to be done, it has to be done NOW, and it has to be done on a grand scale.

And it's not going to get done by the PPA. They are a good organization with a good idea, but until we see some Powerball-level cash pouring into this effort, I'll keep picking little bits of broken sky out from between my toes.

So I, Johnny Falstaff, hereby issue the challenge to all the internet poker sites to reach deep into the pockets that the fish have lined since DonkeyMaker won the WSOP and put your money where your money is.

1 comment:

ScurvyDog said...

I actually think that you make a damn good case, and that while it seems way too simple on the surface, it'd have the best shot at getting poker a carve-out in the UIGEA and getting the trains back on schedule.

The problem, though, is that it'd take a group effort, and unfortunately we're not talking about a group that's inclined to share. They're hard-wired to check-raise their grandmother if they think they can get more money out of her, not to wisely invest their bankrolls on something that has no certain ROI and might actually help the douchebag across the table more than it helps them personally.

We also screwed the pooch in the fact that Party was the dominant industry leader prior to all this shit hitting the fan. They could have invested a relatively small amount of money years ago that would have avoided this shitstorm but didn't, due to their massive incompetence on all fronts. If we'd instead had a dominant industry leader that was savvy and forward-looking, none of this would have come about.